David Hyde Pierce

David Hyde Pierce Biography

David Hyde Pierce (born April 3, 1959) is an American actor and comedian. Pierce is best known for playing the psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on the hit NBC sitcom Frasier, for which he had won four Emmy Awards during the show's run.

Early life

The youngest of four siblings, Pierce was born in Saratoga Springs, New York. His father, George, was an aspiring actor, and his mother, Laura Marie (ne Hughes), was an insurance agent. Pierce has three older siblings: Barbara, Nancy, and Thomas, and added his middle name "Hyde" to avoid confusion with another actor named David Pierce.

As a child, Pierce frequently played organ at the local Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs. He began acting while in high school, earning recognition as best Dramatic Arts student. In 1977, Pierce received the Yaddo Medal for character and scholarship and worked in theater while a counselor at Camp Kabeyun in New Hampshire. However, his love of music was still strong, so he decided to study classical piano at Yale University. However, Pierce soon grew bored with music history lessons and found that he was not dedicated enough to practice the required hours to become a successful concert pianist. Instead, he graduated in 1981 with a double major in English and Theatre Arts.

While attending Yale, Pierce performed and directed student productions, appearing as Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., in the Yale Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of H.M.S. Pinafore. He also directed the Gilbert & Sullivan Society's operetta Princess Ida and occasionally accompanied rehearsals on the piano. Among other roles Pierce played at Yale were in Waiting for Godot, Saint Joan, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.


After his graduation, Pierce moved to New York City, where during the 1980s and early 1990s he was employed in various jobs, such as selling ties at Bloomingdale's and working as a security guard, while pursuing an acting career and studying at Michael Howard Studios. During this period he played Laertes in a popular off-Broadway production of Hamlet and made his Broadway debut in Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy in 1982.

Pierce's first big television break came in the early 1990s with Norman Lear's political comedy The Powers That Be, in which Pierce played Theodore, a Congressman. Despite positive reviews from critics, the show was canceled after a brief run.

In part due to his close physical resemblance to Kelsey Grammer, the producers of the Cheers spin-off Frasier created the role of Niles Crane (Frasier Crane's younger brother) for him. Although prior to Frasier going into production, Pierce had petitioned the Screen Actors Guild to change his billing to David Pierce, the name he had used on the stage, the use of his middle name in the show's credits helped reinforce the actor's and the character's "snooty" image. For his work on Frasier, Pierce was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy a record eleven consecutive years, winning in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Pierce also appeared alongside Jodie Foster in Little Man Tate, with Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone's Nixon, and with Ewan McGregor in Down With Love. He provided the voice for Doctor Doppler in Disney's 42nd animated feature, Treasure Planet, Slim, a stick insect in Pixar's A Bug's Life and Abe Sapien in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy. In 2001, he starred in the cult 1980s summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer as the befuddled astrophysicist, Prof. Henry Newman. In his role in Sleepless in Seattle, Pierce played the brother of Meg Ryan's character, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. The movie was released just three months before the start of Frasier.

In 2005, Pierce joined Tim Curry and others in the stage production of Spamalot. In August and September 2006, he starred as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in Curtains, a new Kander and Ebb musical staged at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. In March 2007, Curtains opened on Broadway and on June 10, 2007 Pierce won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical at the 61st Tony Awards for his performance. In his acceptance speech, Pierce said the first words he spoke on a Broadway stage were, "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

On November 19, 2007, Pierce was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. (In 1999, Pierce was awarded an Honorary Degree from Skidmore College, located in Saratoga Springs, NY.

In 2010, Pierce appeared in a revival of David Hirson's play La Bte directed by Matthew Warchus. The production debuted on London's West End before moving to New York. Also in 2010, Pierce had his first starring film role as Warwick Wilson in the dark comedy/psychological thriller The Perfect Host.

Voice acting

Pierce is known for his distinctive voice and like his Frasier co-star, Kelsey Grammer, he is often called upon to provide voice work. His notable roles include the narrator of the movie "The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human" in 1999, walking stick insect Slim in A Bug's Life, Doctor Delbert Doppler in Disney's film Treasure Planet, and the amphibian Abe Sapien in Hellboy. Pierce refused credit for his Hellboy role because he felt it was the performance of Doug Jones, and not his own voice, which ultimately brought the character of Abe Sapien to life. He was the voice for Drix, a cold pill in the animated comedy Osmosis Jones.

In a deliberate in-joke, he voiced Cecil, the brother of Kelsey Grammer-voiced Sideshow Bob, in The Simpsons episode "Brother from Another Series", in which the two characters parallel the Frasier-Niles relationship. At one point in the episode, Cecil mistakes Bart for Maris, the unseen wife of Niles on Frasier. He returned as Cecil in the Season 19 episode "Funeral for a Fiend" where Frasier co-star John Mahoney (who starred as Frasier and Niles' father in the show) voices Dr. Robert Terwilliger, Sr., the father of Cecil and Sideshow Bob. Pierce also provided the voice of Mr. Daedalus in the 1998 Disney show Hercules: The Animated Series. In 2006, he co-starred in the animated pilot for The Amazing Screw-On Head as the Screw-On Head's arch-nemesis Emperor Zombie; however, the series was not picked up. His commercial voiceover work included ads for the Tassimo coffee system, Seattle's Metro Transit and home furnishings retailer IKEA Canada.

Personal life

After years of media speculation about his sexuality, Pierce came out in 2007 and later confirmed through his publicist that he and television writer, director and producer Brian Hargrove were a couple. When accepting his Tony Award for Curtains, Pierce thanked "my partner, Brian, because it's 24 years of listening to your damn notes "? that's why I'm up here tonight." They married in California on October 24, 2008, just days before Proposition 8 was adopted as law, banning same-sex marriages in the state. On May 28, 2009, while a guest on The View, he publicly announced his marriage to Hargrove and expressed his anger over the approval of Proposition 8. Pierce and Hargrove divide their time between New York and Los Angeles.

He and Frasier co-star John Mahoney are godparents to Frasier co-star Jane Leeves' son, Finn. Pierce has spent years working with the Alzheimer's Association on behalf of Americans with Alzheimer's disease. He has appeared in Washington D.C. to testify in support of expanding funding for treatment, and he has publicly campaigned for the (ultimately successful) National Alzheimer's Project Act. He told MSNBC in 2011, "it is up to us, to all of us, to the American people and to their representatives about whether we face the challenges and make all the effort necessary or if we ignore it and just let this sort of tidal wave crash over us."


Film appearances
Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Appointments of Dennis Jennings Businessman Short
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Bartender at Fashion Show
1988 Crossing Delancey Mark
1988 Rocket Gibraltar Monsieur Henri
1989 Vampire's Kiss Theater Guy
1990 Across Five Aprils Union Soldier
1991 Little Man Tate Garth Emmerick
1991 The Fisher King Lou Rosen
1993 Sleepless in Seattle Dennis Reed
1993 Addams Family Values Delivery Room Doctor
1994 Wolf Roy
1995 Ripple Peter Short
1995 Nixon John Dean Nominated"?Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1998 A Bug's Life Slim (voice)
1999 The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human Narrator (voice)
2000 Isn't She Great Michael Hastings
2000 Chain of Fools Mr. Kerner
2000 The Tangerine Bear Bird (voice)
2001 Wet Hot American Summer Henry Newman
2001 Happy Birthday Barney Short
2001 Osmosis Jones Drix (voice)
2001 Laud Weiner Laud Weiner Short
2002 Full Frontal Carl
2002 Treasure Planet Doctor Doppler (voice)
2003 Down with Love Peter MacMannus
2004 Hellboy Abe Sapien (voice)
2008 Forever Plaid: The Movie Narrator (voice)
2009 Stingray Sam Narrator (voice)
2010 The Perfect Host Warwick Wilson
Television appearances
Year Title Role Notes
1987 Spenser: For Hire O'Neill 1 episode
1992 Dream On Jerry Dorfer 1 episode
1992"1993 The Powers That Be Theodore Van Horne 20 episodes
1993"2004 Frasier Niles Crane Series Regular
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1995, 1998, 1999, 2004)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2000)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (1996)
Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy (1997, 1998)
TV Guide Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy [2000]

Nominated"?Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor " Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001)
Nominated"?Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003)
Nominated"?Satellite Award for Best Actor " Television Series Musical or Comedy (1999)
Nominated"?Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor " Television Series (2002, 2003)
Nominated"?Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)
Nominated"?Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)

1995"1996 Caroline in the City Niles Crane, Jimmy Callahan 2 episodes
1996 Mighty Ducks Baron von Lichtenstamp 3 episodes
1996 The Outer Limits Dr. Jack Henson 1 episode
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Puss (voice) 1 episode: Puss in Boots
1997 & 2007 The Simpsons Cecil Terwilliger 2 episodes
1999 Jackie's Back Perry (The Deaf Rehearsal Pianist) TV Movie
2001 Titus Jerry October 1 episode
2001 On the Edge Barney TV Movie
2003 Gary the Rat Addison (voice) 1 episode
2006 The Amazing Screw-On Head Emperor Zombie (voice) 1 episode


  • Beyond Therapy (1982)
  • The Heidi Chronicles (1990)
  • A Wonderful Life (2005)
  • Children and Art (2005)
  • Spamalot (2005)
  • Curtains (2007)
  • Accent on Youth (2009)
  • La Bte (2010"2011)
  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (2012)

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